agtech sector australian australias billion world oyster
Why agtech is Australia’s next $100 billion industry## The world is an oysterThat figure, predicted by the National Farmers’ Federation, almost doubles thevalue of the sector by 2030. The opportunity is there. Global food demand isforecast to increase 60 per cent by 2060, and the growing middle class ofChina and India will consume both a greater amount and greater variety offood. Australia has an established brand and strong trade relationships withthe emerging market. We have an extremely valuable opportunity here to developtechnologies that make a real difference to the economy’s bottom line, whilealso helping rural Australia realise the economic benefits of the digitaltechnology revolution.We can’t simply double our farmland. We already use just over half ourlandmass for agriculture, and much of the rest is inhospitable and barren. Infact, 85 per cent of the growth of the sector would have to come fromincreased yields and cropping intensity. That kind of increase in productionis simply impossible without technology.Therefore, each oyster saved is an oyster earned. Or, perhaps, exported.We have diverse climates and world-class research. Solutions and productsdeveloped here will not only directly help Australian farmers, they can alsobe exported to the world at scale. The global market for agriculturaltechnology is projected to be US$189 billion between 2013 and 2022. It isn’tjust an opportunity for agriculture, the tech sector also has a lot to gain inthis space.Looking at a sector with $100 billion potential. iStock## Getting hands dirtyTo get there, startups will have to get their hands dirty – literally. AgTechsolutions are dispersed, exposed to the harsh Australian elements, jostled andtrampled by cattle. It is our rural and regional communities where the impactof these technologies are most felt. AgTech is perhaps the most tangibleexample of how technological innovation and entrepreneurship has an impactright across the diversity of Australian experience, not just the laneways ofinner cities.Still, while the potential is high, there are obstacles we will need toovercome. Powering Growth conducts roundtable discussions with over 60stakeholders across government, industry, startups and investment, andcompares the Australian AgTech space with seven other global players. Itidentifies three key areas in which we are lacking – capital, connectivity anddirection – and provides the practical steps needed to address thosechallenges.AgTech provides a window into the transformative effect digital technology canhave on traditional industry. Agriculture has at its heart a powerfulconnection to the physical world. It is by its nature remote, and by itsnature subject to the elements. If there is any industry that could beconsidered hostile for tech startups, agriculture must surely be it. Yetcritical to its prosperity in the coming decades is technological innovation -cloud analytics, AI, drones, big data and autonomous vehicles.Australia’s tech sector has a powerful role to play in development ofAustralia’s economy at large. Powering Growth describes the first step of anexciting journey.The world is Australia’s agtech oyster, says StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley.Daniel MunozAlex McCauley is the CEO of StartupAUS.